requests garner mixed results
By Dolores Gonzalez, Senior Program Manager, Office of the
Vice President for Advancement, and Curt Porter, UNM Budget
Below are a few highlights from the recent legislative session
where over 5,000 bills, memorials, resolutions and capital outlay
requests were introduced. Of these, UNM tracked 538.
Based on UNMs Legislative Funding Priorities, the University
had mixed results during the recent session. Two of UNMs
priorities were compensation and the cost of opening the
doors, which included funding formula workload, inflationary
increases and no increase in the tuition credit. The legislature
appropriated funds for a three percent compensation increase
for higher education faculty and 2.5 percent for staff. (It
should be noted that that UNMs Faculty Senate and Staff
Council have gone on record that there should be no difference
in the faculty and staff compensation increases.)
The University also received full workload funding from the
new formula and some inflationary increases. Unfortunately,
the inflationary increases were not as large as recommended
by the Commission on Higher Education, but UNM received some
relief for increased costs of utilities and library acquisitions.
Also, while the tuition credit was not held at this years
level, the increase was a relatively moderate four percent.
The news is not nearly as good for UNMs other priorities,
however. UNM was seeking some $4.5 million in enhancements to
Health Sciences Center educational programs. None of those requests
were funded, but the legislature did provide $2 million to enhance
nursing programs statewide. The other University priority was
a request for approximately $4.3 million to expand, or add to,
its special projects funding. UNM submitted a prioritized list
of 12 projects, none of which were funded. The legislature did
add to UNMs special project funding by approving five
projects totaling more than $700,000 but none of these
were on the priority list.
Additionally, the legislature passed over $3.35 million in capital
outlay funding for several projects at the main campus, Health
Sciences Center and branch campuses. Unfortunately, only $245,000
of this amount (design/planning funds for the Centennial Engineering
Building) was for a project on UNMs capital outlay priority
list. The governor has not yet signed legislation that would
appropriate these monies.
Other Legislative Issues
Several other non-appropriation bills that UNM monitored closely
during the session and continue to watch as the April 11 deadline
approaches (results unavailable at Campus News press time) for
the governor to sign or veto include:
HB 573 allows construction contracts to be awarded on
factors other than solely on cost and minimal pass/fail
criteria. This bill would allow the University to choose the
contractor most qualified for a particular project, thus helping
to ensure that the finished project is of the highest quality
and completed according to the agreed time lines.
SB 73 allows supervising anesthesiologists to supervise
up to three anesthesiologist assistants. Currently they can
only supervise two. This will become more critical as the Health
Sciences Center prepares to expand their capacity to perform
surgeries in their expanded facilities.
SB 466 provides the language for the allocation of the
$3 million in funds appropriated in the General Appropriations
Act to establish an endowed chair at each of the states
three research universities. Endowed chairs provide an excellent
means for universities to attract and retain quality faculty.
Endowed chairs are proven to be a factor in the stimulus of
economic community development.
HB 886 (signed by the Governor on 4/2/03) allows textbooks
and other required classroom materials to be excluded from governmental
gross receipts taxes.
Currently, the University closes the bookstore to the public
at the start of each semester to allow students to purchase
their books without having to pay GGRT. Closing the bookstore
for six weeks per year has a negative financial impact on UNM
revenue because the general public cannot access merchandise
during this time. The legislation becomes effective July 1.